“Why could we not cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief,” Matthew 17:19b-20a, KJV
This is where the proverbial “rubber meets the road,” or where the heart meets with true faith. Jesus’ disciples tried to cast a demon out of the man’s son, but to no avail. The Bible says, “They could not cure him,” (Mt. 17:16, KJV). They didn’t get the results of their prayer on that day. Perplexed they asked Jesus about what happened. Jesus’ response was very simple. He told them it was “because of your unbelief.”
Sometimes in life I think we tend to downplay the importance of our faith and what we believe. We hear about it so much that I think as Christians we have become desensitized to its power in both our spiritual and our natural lives. This is not what it should be since we are told in four verses of the Bible, “The just shall live by his faith,” (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38, KJV).
Our faith, our belief should be the marker for everything in our lives. Not just for salvation, but for every action and prayer. We know all the right words to say and all the proper “Christian” motions to make, but is our faith alive and put into full force action?
If you feel a little waning in this area and if you feel like Jesus is talking to you, here are some steps to build up your faith and belief:
1. Pray: Yup, that’s right! Keep praying. Jesus did not have an issue with their prayer; He had a problem with their lack of belief in their prayer. In Mark 11:24 Jesus said, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them,” (KJV, see also Mt. 21:22; Ja. 1:16). Continue to pray, yet make sure you believe in your prayer being heard and you believe in the One who hears your prayer and is able to be your help (more on this a little later). Many ask a lot of things of the Lord, but those that catch His attention the most are those who have faith when they ask. On several occasions, Jesus said it’s because of “your faith” that healing has taken place (Mt. 9:22; Mk. 10:52). Too many people focus on the right words to say during prayer when the real focus should be on Whom we believe. Do our heart’s match up with the words that are coming out of our mouths or are they just that, words, instead of a powerful instrument implemented by what we believe? Your faith matters more than your words.
2. Nourish: Every believer has to nourish their faith with a daily diet of the Word of God. “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart . . .,” (Jer. 15:16, KJV). We’ve all heard the phrase “you are what you eat” and no truer is it than here. Our natural bodies depend on us to eat properly for it to maintain its daily functions. Our spirit depends on us to fill it with the necessary spiritual nutrients to help our faith and belief thrive to be all that God has designed for you and I to be. A rich diet in God’s Word will supply the believer with encouragement, wisdom and truth to hold on to their faith and to build the spiritual muscle to believe more. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” (Mt. 4:4, KJV).
3. Rest: Not only rest in our salvation but also in the fact that He heard (told you there was more :)). “For we which have believed do enter into rest . . .,” (Heb. 4:3, KJV). “I called on the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me . . .,” (Ps. 118:5, NKJV; see also my article “Know That God Hears!”). We have to trust in Him to handle our prayers. That’s what resting is all about. We prayed it, we committed it to Him, and we rest. Is this hard to do sometimes? Yes, but oh so needful. It’s disciplining ourselves like Jesus did when He spoke at Lazarus’ tomb saying, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me,” (John 11:41, KJV). He didn’t try to persuade God, He rested in the fact that He knew already that God heard Him. We have to discipline ourselves to rest in Him. Those that are in a continual state of worry are not resting. Rather, they are anxious over the conditions in their life. Paul said, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” (Phil. 4:6-7, KJV). Peace will cover the one who prays it and gives it to God allowing him/her to rest.
Is this a sure-fire way to have God answer your prayers the way you want? NOPE!!! Nonetheless, we still are to be people who believe when we pray. Unbelief will cause you and I to miss out on the amazing things that God wants to do in and through us. Don’t take that chance today. Don’t ever stop praying but do more than just pray – BELIEVE!